The local community action agency is OFO, or Opportunities for Otsego. The organization administers several different statewide resources, including weatherization and HEAP for paying energy bills. In addition, they operate some of their own services, including emergency housing, wheels to work, and Head Start among many others.
There are several different categories of help arranged. Each will offer a series of programs to income qualified clients, senior citizens, and/or the disabled in Otsego County. The different components include Housing and Employment Services, Energy Assistance, Early Childhood, as well as Health and Nutrition Programs, and more information on each is below.
Free energy-efficient home improvements - The Weatherization Program, which is US DOE sponsored and applications are available to it from Opportunities for Otsego, provides help to income-eligible households. The services available will help people conserve energy and reduce utility and heating fuel costs. Once need and eligibility have been established by the OFO Inc. process in place, an in-home assessment is performed by a skilled technician.
Some of what may be done includes adding new insulation, weather stripping, and sealing of cracks. There may also be storm windows installed and/or new doors, which can minimize energy loss and enhance comfort, safety, and health. All of the work done is by a qualified contractor. All services are provided by trained and certified Weatherization Program professionals from the Otsego County region, at no cost to the homeowner.
The Low Income Home-Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) helps families who are struggling to pay their electric, heating or gas bills. Opportunities for Otsego clients decide for which bill they need assistance, and the applicant is responsible to supply the information that the non-profit uses to determine the benefit amount. The financial aid appears as a credit in the bill, unless the monthly energy bill is included in rent expenses. In that case, clients receive a check in the benefit amount.
LIHEAP is run by the federal government in partnership with community action agencies such as OGO, and the funds can be utilized once every 12 months. If a family is not qualified, they can also try the DSS office in Otsego County New York for intake. As there are several places to receive LIHEAP applications.
Low cost energy improvements can be made by the EmPower NY as well as the Assisted Home Performance. These differ from weatherization in that the homeowner needs to pay a fee to have an assessment done. While the home updates will be more affordable, there is still a cost to the applicant.
The Opportunities for Otsego, Inc. Housing Programs offer a number of services to support tenants and the homeless. The staff from the non-profit community action agency provides both case management services, referrals to rent or deposit help to stop evictions, as well as permanent supportive housing.
Struggling Otsego County families can apply. There is housing for homeless families with members who are disabled, help for those in poverty, and other support arranged. The process is focused on a number of issues, such as assistance with the completion of Section 8 housing applications or funds for deposits, budgeting, debt reduction and GED programming. Other case managers from OFO work with landlords to mediate a solution or arrange legal aid and more. Services are provided to qualified low income families with the goal of gaining greater housing stability and avoiding future recurrences of evictions.
Free or low cost cars are offered as part of Wheels to Work. It is only allowed for low income families that need help in getting to work, so maybe they currently lack transportation. The applicant needs to be on TANF welfare, have an income under 200% of poverty levels, and need the car for work. The transportation is also combined with other employment counseling services for those that need it. Opportunities for Otsego can arrange this service, and offer details on other free charity car programs.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and applications being process by Opportunities for Otsego, Head Start and Early Head Start serve infants, toddlers, pre-school aged children, and their entire low income family. Children are provided with comprehensive educational, free medical care from centers in Otsego County, nutritional, and social services, while parents are encouraged to actively participate.
The education program runs daily in Otsego County. The calendar year is September through June for Head Start; Early Head Start is a year-round program. So clients may need to also seek affordable summer camp for their kids too. Income guidelines must be met to receive free Head Start services.
There are also day care and programs for very young children. OFO Inc. offers services such as the Children's Center as well as the UPK (Universal Pre-Kindergarten). There is help given to children under the age of 12. There are prekindergarten classes that can help children learn about match, science, and other topics. They may also be provided free snacks, clothes, and more.
The WIC Initiative is a collaborative effort between community action agencies such as Opportunities for Otsego and the state. The program is formally known as Women, Infants, and Children. WIC's main goal is to feed children and new mothers. It is often combined with services such as Building Healthy Families.
WIC from OFO Inc. also works to prevent pediatric dental disease by providing free dental care as well as education on oral health. In addition to the food vouchers, WIC may also give dental screening and treatment for medical issues for very young children from low-income families. So everything form food, formula, and more is offered.
For more information on these or other services in the county, including financial aid programs, Opportunities for Otsego is located at 3 West Broadway, Oneonta, New York 13820. Dial (607) 433-8000 for information.
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